What America needs now is a constitutional monarch

In the category of viewpoint changes I never expected to have… a couple months ago, when the whole royal baby thing was in the news, I read a surprisingly convincing case that constitutional monarchy is a great form of government. About the same time, Gwern convinced my the American revolution was a bad idea. And today, as we begin the US government shutdown, I learned that the one time something like this happened in Australia, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative solved the problem by firing everyone and they had new elections. If only that option were available here.

  • kraut2

    As a first generation Canuck – I am glad we have our Governor General representing the Queen who could do exactly that in a stalemate like that. Dismiss the old government, call for new elections. Democracy is only good as long as it works. American demo”crazy” has become a farce.

    • rg57

      Except that our GG had a chance to do just that, and failed. Being presented with a minority party that did not have the confidence of the house, and a coalition of parties forming a majority that had agreed to work together, she decided to go with the minority party who got things into the ditch in the first place. That party went on to be found in contempt of parliament, and every week now we learn about more government corruption, despite the efforts to reduce media access. The Governor General is not accountable to anyone in Canada.

      I much prefer the US system, which doesn’t privilege (by constitution) any family. All US politicians are responsible to the voters who may hold them to account every 2 years (representatives), 4 years (president), or 6 years (senators). The real problem with the US is not the government, but the average US citizen who either fails to vote, or votes for idiots.

  • Msironen

    Funny thing; in Finland the president, despite being having extremely ceremonial/limited powers compared to the presidency in the US, has the power to dissolve the parliament and call for new elections.

    (Note: might not be true since reforms in 2000; couldn’t find a direct reference for the president not having that particular power anymore, though).

    • eric

      Well, but that’s not a solution, that’s just the parliamentary version of the same problem. While the government is dissolved, they can’t pass a budget. So spending 10 days every 4 years in shutdown is pretty much exactly the same as spending 10 days every 4 years with your parliamentary government dissolved.
      This graphic should put it in perspective; overall, the US doesn’t do too badly in terms of keeping government up and running. We are currently in a very bad/incompetent spot, but in our (non-parliamentary) system, those spots are actually fairly rare and don’t represent a very significant amount of overall time.

      • stanz2reason

        Funny how the longest shutdowns happen when a Democrat is in the presidents office.

        • L.Long

          No surprise as who started it? The Dems? No-the re-Puke-ians and their NEED to get rid of Dems…especially black ones. Looking at just Obama’s reign, who were the ones to bend over to cooperate..Not the re-Puke-ians.
          This is why at the next election I vote 3rd party, and I don’t care who they are.

      • kraut2

        “While the government is dissolved, they can’t pass a budget.”

        But nobody can stop the payments that have to be made. The old budget just is extended till the new government is in place.

        • eric

          Again, that’s not an advantage of parliamentary systems because the US has that too. About 40% of our annual expenditures are mandatory – meaning that if Congress fails to act, they get extended/paid.

          • kraut2

            Hey, if that is all good, why worry, eh? No problem then at all. Everything hunky dory in the US of A apparently, just keep moving, nothing to see.

          • eric

            No need for snark. I’m not saying the system is perfect; I’m saying you haven’t shown that the parliamentary system avoids these problems any better than we do. You’ve got a different flavor of democracy, but its got the same amount of fat and sugar in it.

  • Doug Smith

    The problem with elected or appointed Heads of State is that they are inevitably politicians – all with over-inflated egos, whose main skill is telling convincing lies to get elected! So the best liar become president!

    At least monarchy is not trained to lie, doesn’t need the money, and may have a genuine interest in the success of his country. They are also trained for the job from birth.

  • Doug Smith

    The trouble with elected Heads of State is that they are politicians – over inflated egos and experts in lying. At least monarch are trained in the job from birth, don’t need the money or status, and may have a genuine interest in their country.

  • Voidhawk

    Soundly disagree. A constitutional monarchy might be better than an absolute one, but it’s still riddled in problems. Firstly there’s the inequality of a family living in the lap of luxury with no real responsibility to the people, secondly the Prime Minister effectively gains the monarch’s power to declare war, raise taxes etc if they lead a majority government, despite a lot of people’s illusions nobody votes for the Prime Minister. In addition, the British Queen certainly has used her Royal Perogative for the detriment to her subjects more than once: look up the injustice of the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands
    Above it all is the tactic ackowledgement of priviledge – that there is a breed of people who are inherently ‘better’ than the people that they rule over – do you really want to enshrine that attitude in your country?

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    It would be an insanely radical solution, and politically improbable, but there’s a legally allowable version of the Australian approach. Members of the House (or Senate) can be expelled, per Article 1 Section 5, by a two-thirds vote of its membership. If two-thirds of the House agrees, the entire House can be expelled en masse — though they would all immediately be eligible for re-election. (There’s a slight technical hazard that there would no longer remain anyone eligible to “judge of the elections, returns and qualifications” of the new class, leaving the potential for two rival House memberships to result; however, if matters have become polarized enough for that to be a significant hazard, we’re on the threshold.)

    Contrariwise, a significant fraction of the problem appears from politically-oriented gerrymandering allowing such extreme candidates to be relatively electable. However, Article 1, Section 4 effectively gives Congress (presumably requiring both houses and a presidential signature) the authority to override state decisions on redistricting; it would be at least technically (though perhaps not politically) possible to mandate some algorithm like Shortest Splitline to get a less insane Congress.

    The chances of this seem to run somewhere between slim and fat.

  • Jeff

    Any system of governance is going to have drawbacks and strengths, the various forms of monarchy included. The drawbacks include the obvious stuff about having a ruling class that exists through heredity as opposed to merit, a separation of governor/governed, and the extreme difficulty of changing such an arrangement if it turns out to go sour. On the other hand, the task of running an entire country is a daunting one, and there would be benefit in handing over the task to someone who’s been groomed for it since birth. Not to mention that the steadiness of having one person in charge for decades would make for much more consistent policy…

    • Voidhawk

      Monarchy doesn’t necessarily give you a guaranteed consistency. While Elizabeth II and Victoria reigned for decades, the early part of the 20th century saw Britain go through monarchs like they were going out of style.

  • qbsmd

    The idea that a monarch is necessary to force new elections when a government becomes disfunctional sounds analogous to the idea that one must believe in a deity to hang out with like-minded people on a Sunday morning.

    That said, it would be really nice if the US had a law stating that in the event of a government shutdown, not only would it trigger new elections, but everyone currently in congress would be banned from ever holding federal office again.

    • L.Long

      Too true cuz if they are going to shut down they are basically say we are incompetent to do the job. So they should be replaced.

  • Jakeithus

    The Westminster Parliamentary System certainly has it’s own set of problems, but it definitely shines when it comes to efficiency and stability. Personally I think its success speaks for itself when it comes to looking at its use around the world, but that doesn’t stop those of us living under it from complaining.

    Of course, if you can’t complain about government, who can you complain about. Am I right?

  • J.W. Browning

    That was just silly and uninsightful.


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